It's a sign of progress, but still too tragic. The preliminary statistics released from 2017 show that Saskatchewan recorded 102 traffic fatalities, the lowest number in over six decades, with the last being 74 deaths in 1954.
This is certainly an improvement over 125 fatalities in 2016, and the yearly average of 145 deaths in the decade prior to that. However, Minister Responsible for SGI Joe Hargrave expressed that it's not enough.
"It's something we have to fix. We've got to get better and better. The numbers are a great start, but 102 people...if it was my family or your family, your neighbor or your friends, it's still way too many."
He noted that the various initiatives used by SGI to get their message of safe driving across have had the desired effect, but it'll take more than that.
"Good awareness has worked very well in this past year. We've really pushed that hard with distracted driving and impaired driving. I think people are starting to pay attention far more. People are asking those questions now before they go out, before they make those bad decisions. A lot more organizations that are holding functions are thinking about it, they're arranging for rides for people. We're just looking for that to continue and increase."
Hargrave added that the awareness campaigns will continue to come, reminding folks in different ways to not drive impaired by drugs or alcohol, to put the phones down, and to wear their seatbelt. However, he put the onus on the people to take things to the next level.
"Each of us has to take responsibility. I think the people of Saskatchewan have to act. We've seen that this year, and I hope that we see that even improve next year."
The legalization of marijuana will be a new factor in the statistics ahead, but SGI is investing in new initiatives, including expert training for law enforcement, to prepare for the coming changes.
"The ball is in your court. You have to be the people that have to take the next step. You have to be the ones that take that action. There's only so much SGI can do. We can have ads out there, and can bring in new laws, but if you don't do something, if you don't take that action, another innocent victim could die," said Hargrave.